8 min read

How to Use Automated Messaging to Meet Changing Guest Expectations

For many hotels, 2020 was an ongoing battle of figuring out how to do more with less. With less staff to serve guests, and external circumstances changing daily (COVID-19, natural disasters, and ever changing government regulations), it was a crash course in streamlining hotel operations management. Hotel operations have become leaner by necessity.

Hotels must be more efficient and empower both guests and staff with self-service tools. By leveraging technology to boost staff productivity and increase guest satisfaction through streamlined communication, Noble House Hotels & Resorts found its groove with the help of ALICE’s automated guest messaging

From a worldwide pandemic to a rash of wildfires, here’s how ALICE helped empower Noble House Hotels & Resorts to build a dynamic and resilient operation, prepared for anything that comes its way. 

 

Operational resilience during turbulent times

First and foremost, operational resilience is paramount during uncertain times. Whether it's less staff on hand due to COVID or a surge in guests displaced by a wildfire, hotels must be prepared for anything. Like the stress on a building facing high winds, operations must flex and bend in tough times to avoid breaking.

Noble House Hotels & Resorts leaned into its technology to adapt to these dynamic conditions. First, the pandemic required management to adjust staffing levels. Labor allocation became even more critical as demand shifted to nearby drive markets coming in for weekends only. That made scheduling difficult, as the hotel had lots to do on weekends and not much else during the week. To accommodate demand fluctuations, they had to carefully schedule. 

“Hotels are not meant to go zero to 100 every Friday, Saturday. It’s not sustainable. We're such a lean operation and had to rethink our staffing guides. It’s less full-time and more part-time,” said Corporate Rooms Director, Steven Marais. 

Then there were the 2020 California wildfires. In one instance, the hotel jumped from 5% occupancy to 100% -- while everyone was sleeping. Staffing became an issue, as did housekeeping related to extended stays. “We went to 100% occupancy within two hours. And it lasted about two or three weeks, and then it was ongoing because we had [more fires]. Just one after another,” said Marais.

To be resilient and adaptable to dynamic conditions, lean hotel operations must flex according to demand without sacrificing the guest experience quality. ALICE’s unified messaging platform kept staff organized, connected, and in communication with each other and guests. 

With messaging and collaboration layered across the operation in a single tool, miscommunication has dropped, and cooperation has gone up. “The team sees that it’s a lot easier to communicate,” said Marais. “And productivity has definitely gone up because the message is getting to the right person at the right time.” 

 

Automated guest messaging: “It’s been a game-changer”

Guests expect clear and consistent communication in real time. And that’s doubly true in times of uncertainty, such as a pandemic or natural disaster. Noble House Hotels & Resorts built a dynamic communications workflow that adapted to each guest touchpoint to deliver on that guest expectation. 

“Things are ever-changing, [so] the traditional confirmation letter is not working anymore,” Marais explained. “the guest needs to be communicated with dynamically. We need the pre-arrival text; we need the app automated arrival message; we need to communicate at check-in. We need to set the expectation ahead of time.”

To deliver on the expectation for timely communications, Noble House Hotels & Resorts implemented a more convenient checkout experience. The pandemic only accelerated what guests already wanted: a way to skip the front desk and checkout from their phones. 

To provide a better guest experience that also lightens the burden on staff, Noble automatically sends text messages to guests when occupancy passes 80%, Marais said. 

“It’s been a game-changer to be able to change your automated messages on the fly. We’ll send an automated message that says, ‘Tomorrow's a very busy checkout day. If you want to skip the desk and participate in contactless checkout, send us your email when you're ready to check out.’ Nobody wants to go to a crowded front desk.”

The result reveals how much guests value convenience -- and how effectively automated text messaging communications increase guest satisfaction and reduce workloads: 80% of guests choose contactless checkout when offered.

“It's unbelievable how that little piece of communication just changed behavior, but it's expected: nobody wants to go to a crowded front desk right now. And there's probably only one person at the desk and maybe a manager.”

 

Choosing the right partner: “It just works”

Lean hotel operations require a shift in mindset that includes a robust technology partner that listens to your problems, provides solutions, and innovates to stay ahead of the curve. 

Looking ahead to a more personalized guest experience at scale, Marais sees ALICE’s messaging communication infrastructure as the lynchpin. “Technology will elevate personalized service. We’re going back to our roots of hospitality.”

It also requires a holistic approach that revolves around a partner that doesn’t overcomplicate things with bloated tech that’s hard to use: “Technology needs to integrate and make our life easier, rather than it making our lives harder.  Working smarter, not working harder. Technology really can help. It's just that we need to put the effort in and front-load work [when choosing new technology].”

Interested in learning more about how Noble House Hotels & Resorts uses Automated Messaging to reach their hotel guests? Read our latest case study today